NINGXIA: GRAPE WALL OF CHINA
In off-the-beaten-track Ningxia province, north central China, grain crops and sheep have been the region’s economic backbone. Its arid climate, high altitude and rugged terrain limit the arable possibilities for the People’s Republic’s third poorest province, but recent developments in the local wine industry are injecting money into the economy.
Separated from the Mongolian steppe and Gobi desert by the rugged Helan Shan mountains, Yinchuan, Ningxia’s capital, lies on the banks of the Yellow River. Making the most of the fertile flood plains, local farmers who once grew melons, berries and vegetables are fast adapting their skills to tending vineyards.
China’s modern wine industry started to take off just more than a decade ago, at the same time a new affluence spread across the country.
Wine tourism is likely to be a big boost. Capitalizing on this, Chandon is constructing a strikingly modern winery at its vineyards. Changyu’s Yinchuan winery has just completed an impressive faux French classical château with trellised gardens and marble fountain to impress patrons. If it weren’t for the Chinese gateman, you could swear you were in the Loire. Ningxia regional wineries, large and small, will open their doors to busloads of day visitors ready to wine, dine and buy the local vintages.
Wineries now stretch west to east from Xinjiang, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Ningxia, Beijing and Shandong, where the Yintai region has become the country’s largest wine producer.
Commissioned by The Australian Financial Review Magazine
Image gallery continues ...